Friday 24 November 2017

Fergie shrugs off suggestions United struggling for form

Martyn Ziegler

Alex Ferguson insists he is happy with Manchester United's form despite his team's struggle to score goals and their Carling Cup defeat to Championship side Crystal Palace in the Carling Cup.

United have won three and drawn one of their Premier League games since the 6-1 drubbing by Manchester City but have not scored more than a single goal in the league since October 1.

Moreover, Wayne Rooney, who started the season with a terrific scoring run, has not hit a league goal since mid-September.

Ferguson is adamant that United are in form, should have beaten Newcastle last weekend, and that a trip to Aston Villa today holds few fears -- United have lost only twice in 19 visits to Villa Park since the Premier League started.

Ferguson said: "Our form last Saturday was excellent, we played as well as we have played all season.

"We needed a bit of luck around the goalmouth -- that would have made it a good result as Newcastle have been playing really well."

This evening marks Ashley Young's first return to Villa Park since his move in the summer and Ferguson said he had been delighted with how quickly the 26-year-old had settled in.

"He started off really well and that does not always happen," said Ferguson. "He has been a great signing for us and has integrated really well into the squad."

It is also another chance for Ferguson to cross swords with one of his old stalwarts at Aberdeen, Alex McLeish, and the United boss believes his former player is being given a harder time by Villa fans because of his move from city rivals Birmingham.

"Alex McLeish has been under scrutiny a wee bit, but, in the kind of climate of today's supporters it's understandable, they don't have the patience any longer," he said.

Ferguson blamed the Palace defeat on the lack of competitive football that his second-string players have had, and said he may send Federico Macheda and Mame Biram Diouf out on loan in January.

"It was Rafael's first game, Darron Gibson's first game, Mame Diouf's only played four games this season, Macheda only his third game. That's not enough football I'm afraid," he said.

Dimitar Berbatov (ankle) and Brazilian twins Rafael and Fabio da Silva miss out today after picking up knocks against Palace.

•Pat Fenlon's first game in charge of Hibs ended on a sour note as his side's SPL clash with Motherwell was abandoned because of floodlight failure. Hibs led 1-0 at half-time -- courtesy of Garry O'Connor's 16th-minute strike -- before the game was abandoned on safety grounds.

Aston Villa v Manchester Utd,

Live, ESPN, 5.30

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